The journey of a documentary filmmaker is likely to be different from a mainstream filmmaker. The path of documentary filmmakers is filled with turbulent emotions, rule-breaking risks, thought-provoking questions, and groundbreaking results to give the audience an experience of the real world as raw and authentic as possible.
Here we wanted you to explore the five mind-boggling Oscar-winning documentaries.
1. Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids
This documentary film received the most laurels of its time, and of course, Oscar was one of the feathers in its crown. Documentary filmmakers Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman traversed into the darkest side of the Sonagchi, Calcutta, to capture the world of prostitutes in the red light area.
But restrictions redirected them to introduce the art of photography to the children of sex workers. “Zana auntie,” as the kids call her lovingly, teaches them the basics of photography and finds out their dream to go to school is restricted. But, she pushes the boundaries by exposing the kids’ talents in photography exhibitions.
Avijit, a sex worker’s child, exhibits his extraordinary photography talents in NYC and Calcutta exhibitions through Zana and how Zana helps them to make their dream come true to study in boarding school amidst the restrictions from their guardians is Born into Brothels.
“This beautiful documentary is a light of hope and new life for the sex workers kids living in the dark”.
2. The Cove
Cove is an American documentary film directed by Louie Psihoyos; this documentary deals with the findings of the illegal hunting practices of dolphins in Japan. Richard O’Barry, the man behind the Flipper (1964) tv show, joins the crew and exposes the cruelty of dolphin hunting in Taiji, Japan.
The film captures how local fishermen set up traps for dolphins and marketed them to local aquariums and marine parks worldwide for money and consumption.
The struggles faced by the crew led them to devise an espionage plan with hidden cameras to reveal the truth behind mass dolphin killings.
Amid all the troubles faced by the team, how the crew landed the footage in the international whaling commission and attained justice is what Cove is all about.
3. Bowling for Columbine (2002)
The whistleblower Micheal Moore‘s controversial take on the increasing weapon culture in America in the 90s is Bowling for Columbine. In this documentary, Moore questions the necessity, accessibility, and reasons for citizens owning a gun and the corporate and political play behind the expanding gun culture.
He investigates the Columbine High School massacre (1999) and plays as Moore, the guy with questions in this full-length documentary seeking answers, finding loopholes in his dark, humorous style. Bowling for Columbine shocked the audience and grabbed the academy awards for best documentary feature in 2003.
4. Murder on a Sunday Morning
Murder on a Sunday morning is a murder trial documentation of a 15-year-old African American, Brenton Butler, for a crime he didn’t commit. The film deals with the murder of 65-year-old Mary Ann Stephens in the parking lot of the Ramada Inn in Jacksonville, where Mary Ann’s husband accuses Brenton as the murderer as he happens to be a black American.
This documentary speaks on the injustice done to Butler, from the place of action to police coercion over Butler and the courtroom chaos. Was Brendon set free for the false accusation? Find the answers at the end of the film. Murder on a Sunday morning was awarded as the best documentary feature in 2002, and Jean Xavier de Lestrade directed the film.
5. The Elephant Whisperers:
This beautiful and captivating film captures the life of the orphaned Baby elephant, Raghu, and its entrusted caretakers, Bomman and Belli, in the Mudhumalai reserve forest, Tamil Nadu. The documentary enthralls human-animal emotional bonding at its best. Jaw-dropping visuals and solacing soundtrack are an add-on.
The relationship between Bomman and Belli takes a major change through the journey of raising Raghu and creates an emotional punch at the end. If you are an animal lover, you should catch up with this documentary gem. Elephant whisperers was nominated for Oscars this year from India and won the best documentary film (short) 2023. Kartiki Gonsalves directed this film, and it’s now playing on Netflix.
If you are a documentary filmmaker who aspires to be on this list in the future, create a channel on monetization platforms like GUDSHO and expose it to the world. Let the world celebrate your art and your contribution to the world.